Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Futile Research or Stealthy Censorship?

By Ian Musgrave

It's hard to see the Coalition's plans to weed out "futile" research as anything other than a cynical attempt to defund topics the Coalition doesn’t like.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It hasn’t been a very inspiring election from the point of view of research. Research hasn’t really featured at all. That slightly changed today with a front page article in the Advertiser (also in The Daily Telegraph), under the title of “Abbot’s Waste Disposal”. The article claimed a Coalition government would target “futile” research projects.

Yes, that’s a good idea. We could set up a committee of experts to examine all grants in detail, and get them checked by external experts as well, before deciding on who to give money too.

Oh wait a second, we do that already, it’s called the Australian Research Council.

Now, I’ve been both an applicant and a reviewer of ARC grants, so I can tell you personally that the grant process is no cake run. The competition is fierce and the amount of grant money available is limited. The review process is exhaustive and more than a little harrowing. Only around 20% of all grants get funded, and you have to be exceptionally good for your grant to get up.

Okay, sometimes the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.